Britain’s social (and economic) revolution

A stunning 94% of Britain’s richest made their money themselves. Land ownership no longer holds the keys to the kingdom

Britain’s social (and economic) revolutionIf you watched the royal wedding, you’d be tempted to think of Britain’s social order as immutable. While the bride’s background introduced a degree of diversity, the image of Britain as hereditarily hierarchical seemed to be alive and well. Reality, though, is different. The tectonic plates have shifted significantly over the past half-century, transforming what…

Why it matters that the Royal wedding falls on Victoria Day weekend

Despite the strong American influence, Canada still resembles the U.K. more than any other Commonwealth country

Why it matters that the Royal wedding falls on Victoria Day weekendBy choosing to have their wedding on May 19, Meghan Markle and Prince Harry are giving Canadians something they’ve never had before – a holiday weekend that coincides with a royal wedding. Not only does the ceremony fall on the Victoria Day weekend, which marks the former Queen’s birthday in Canada, there’s a decidedly Canadian…

Politics, propaganda and the Bayeux Tapestry

French President Emmanuel Macron has loaned the historic depiction to Britain for public display. Is he taunting the English about Brexit?

Politics, propaganda and the Bayeux TapestryThe Bayeux Tapestry popped into the news a couple of weeks ago when French President Emmanuel Macron announced it would be loaned to Britain for public display. Immediately, people imputed political meaning. That’s nothing new. Indeed, it’s fair to say that the tapestry has been political from the get-go. Created in the late 11th century, the…

The dark, Machiavellian side of academia

Overlooked by the mass media and given almost free rein, the academic world is a haven for bullies and antisocial behaviour

The dark, Machiavellian side of academiaAccording to the mass media, Hollywood and Westminster are awash with misogynists, pornographers, exploitationists and bullies. That may or may not be true. Natural justice requires that accusers and accused have their day in court. Unfortunately, trial by media seems to have replaced trial by jury. While we’re in the mood to put the world…

Facing up to the harsh truth about the Islamic State

The IS brand of Islam institutionalizes sexism, misogyny, homophobia, racism, sectarianism and slavery. It’s a barbaric credo

Facing up to the harsh truth about the Islamic StateIn October 2017, Britain’s International Development Minister, Rory Stewart, made a case for the in-theatre termination of Britons fighting for the Islamic State (IS). Stewart said: “They believe in an extremely hateful doctrine which involves … trying to use violence and brutality to create an eighth-century … state. …. [T]hese people are a serious danger…

Does the Catalonian crisis signal the end of the nation state?

Across the globe, a deep and growing frustration with the nationalist status quo is driving regional politics

Does the Catalonian crisis signal the end of the nation state?The Spanish government's response to the Catalonian independence movement is a reminder of just how fragile nation states have become in the modern world. Mind you, it's hard to imagine a less helpful response than Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy's chosen option, arrogantly removing popular regional leaders and imposing direct rule. This is just the…

John F. Kennedy: an anglophile for all seasons

The storied president was more English than Irish, despite being seen as the ultimate symbol of Irish-American success and social acceptance

John F. Kennedy: an anglophile for all seasonsJohn F. Kennedy is often seen as the ultimate symbol of Irish-American success and social acceptance. And there’s much truth to that. Irish by ancestry and Roman Catholic by religion, Kennedy’s election to the U.S. presidency represented a breakthrough in status and prestige for an ethnic group that had once been viewed with suspicion. But…

Diana’s bad bargain and her enduring mythology

While popular opinion may cast her as a victim, it’s hard to imagine that she’d have given Charles a second thought if he wasn’t the Prince of Wales

Diana’s bad bargain and her enduring mythologyPeople remember where they were at notable moments, such as when they first heard that someone famous died. And if that death was unexpected, the memory is likely to be clearer. If you’re a certain age, John F. Kennedy’s murder is a perfect example. So, too, is the death of Diana, Princess of Wales, in…

Out of the closet, slowly and cautiously

Britain’s 1957 Wolfenden Report was the first step towards changing legal and social perspectives on homosexuality in the English-speaking world

Out of the closet, slowly and cautiouslyIn August 1954, the British government tasked a committee to look into the law on both homosexual offences and prostitution. Chaired by Sir John Wolfenden, the committee set to work on Sept. 15, 1954, and its recommendations were published just under three years later. Known to history as the Wolfenden Report, it’s remembered as an…

Political “wobbles” prove politics really is a blood sport

Theresa May's recent political "wobble" brings to mind Margaret Thatcher and the 1987 British election, which she won in spite of herself

Political “wobbles” prove politics really is a blood sportBritish Prime Minister Theresa May’s hapless performance in the recent United Kingdom election brought to mind another British prime minister’s voting travails. Although her ultimately decisive victory pushed the unpleasantness into the shadows, Margaret Thatcher – the Iron Lady, no less – had a serious wobble en route to winning a third consecutive mandate in…